There are 12 species of skunks but there are 5 types of skunks that stand out the most. No matter the species though, they all have the same thing in common, they all stink. Their scientific name, Mephitidae, really means stink. So you know that little critters are the real deal.

Skunk are omnivores and are known to eat anything from insects and larvae, earthworms, grubs, rodents, lizards, salamanders, frogs, snakes, fish, birds, moles, and eggs as well as berries, roots, leaves, grasses, fungi, and nuts. Here are the different skunk varieties.

Striped skunks

Striped Skunk.
Striped Skunk.

Striped skunks are the most common skunk species in North America. They’re the ones that you most likely see in your backyard. Striped skunks have black and white markings and can live in most terrain throughout North America without a problem.

These animals have a white stripe that runs from its head to its tail which is how they’re identified. Striped skunks are pretty smart. They don’t spray their dens nor do they spray in confined areas. I think they know just how much they stink.

  • Scientific name: Mephitis mephitis
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Mephitidae
  • Rank: Species

Hog-Nosed Types of Skunks

Hog-nosed skunks get their name because they have a broad nose that resembles the nose of a pig. There are 4 different species of hog-nosed skunks:

American Hog-Nosed Skunk

The American hog-nosed skunk (also Western Hog-Nosed Skunk) is a species of hog-nosed skunk native to Central and North America. They are known to grow to lengths of up to 2.7 feet making them one of the largest of their kind.

Conepatus leuconotus/American Hog Nosed Skunk.
Conepatus leuconotus/American Hog Nosed Skunk.

These are skunk with no stripes and instead, it has a single, broad white coat of fur from the top of the head to the base of the tail, with the tail itself being completely white. However, the underside/lower body of the skunk is black in color. They prefer to live in canyons, streamsides, and rocky terrain.

  • Scientific name: Conepatus leuconotus
  • Mass: 4.2 lbs (Adult)
  • Length: 17 in. (Adult)
  • Trophic level: Carnivorous
  • Conservation status: Least Concern (Population decreasing)
  • Gestation period: 61 days

Molina’s Hog-Nosed Skunk

Would you ever have thought that there was a cute skunk? Molina’s hog-nosed skunk have thin white markings. It generally has black fur and 2 white stripes running from the top of the head down the sides of the body to a mostly white tail. And, of course, a pink, hog-like, fleshy nose

Molina's Hog-nosed Skunk.
Molina’s Hog-nosed Skunk.

These cute skunks live mainly in mid to southern South America, Chile, Peru, northern Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and southern Brazil. Like other skunks, they prefer to hunt at night.

  • Mass: 7.5 lbs (Adult)
  • Scientific name: Conepatus chinga
  • Conservation status: Least Concern (Population decreasing)
  • Rank: Species
  • Higher classification: Hog-nosed skunk

Striped Hog-Nosed Skunk

Striped hog-nosed skunks are black in color with a white patch of fur beginning at the back of their neck that spreads out into two white stripes. Their tail is black and white and not as bushy as other species of skunk. 

Conepatus semistriatus/Striped Hog-nosed skunk.
Conepatus semistriatus/Striped Hog-nosed skunk.

These skunks live in Central and South America (from southern Mexico to northern Peru, and in the extreme east of Brazil). Most of them occupy rocky, sparsely timbered areas.

  • Mass: 4.4 lbs (Adult)
  • Scientific name: Conepatus semistriatus
  • Conservation status: Least Concern
  • Trophic level: Omnivorous
  • Rank: Species
  • Higher classification: Hog-nosed skunk

Humboldt’s Hog-Nosed Skunk

Humboldt’s hog-nosed skunk is also known as the Patagonian hog-nosed skunk because they inhabit the open grassy areas within the Patagonian regions of South Argentina.

Humboldt's Hog-Nosed Skunk
Humboldt’s Hog-Nosed Skunk.

These types of skunks have brownish-red fur with two symmetrical stripes on either side, that extends all the way to the tail. They have the signature pig-like nose that is typical of other hog-nosed skunk species as well as long claws which they use to hunt for food such as ground beetles, grasshoppers, and crickets.

  • Scientific name: Conepatus humboldtii
  • Mass: 2.4 lbs (Adult)
  • Conservation status: Least Concern (Population stable)
  • Trophic level: Carnivorous
  • Length: 14 in. (Adult) Encyclopedia of Life
  • Rank: Species

Spotted Types of Skunks

There are 4 species of spotted skunks and they are by far the cutest skunks that you can find in the wild. Although, they still spray you with stink gas if they feel threatened.

These types of skunks prefer insects. So spotted skunks play an important role in insect control. Cute and good for the environment! Let’s have a look at the different species.

Eastern Spotted Skunk

Eastern spotted skunks are a small and slender skunk species that inhabit areas of the eastern United States as well as parts of Canada and Mexico. They have thick black fur that has around 4 to 6 broken, white stripe-like patterns. It’s one of the few skunks with no stripes and long hair.

They are also referred to as tree skunks because they are very good at climbing trees in search of fruits and the occasional snake. If you do run into this cute furball, you’d have plenty of time to react to it. These types of skunks stomp around and perform handstands as a warning before they spray.

Eastern Spotted Skunk.
Eastern Spotted Skunk.
  • Scientific name: Spilogale putorius
  • Trophic level: Omnivorous
  • Conservation status: Least Concern (Population decreasing)
  • Mass: 1.3 lbs (Adult)
  • Gestation period: 33 days

Western Spotted Skunk

As the name suggests, this little skunk inhabits areas in the western parts of North America. Western spotted skunks have bold black and creamy white stripes. There are three longitudinal stripes on each side of the front part of the body, and three vertical stripes on the hind-parts.

One way to tell the difference between the western and eastern spotted skunks is that the western spotted skunk has more visible white coats. These skunks raise their tails, stomp, hiss, charge, scratch, before taking aim to spray foes with a foul-smelling ejection of liquid.

Western Spotted Skunk
Western Spotted Skunk
  • Scientific name: Spilogale gracilis
  • Conservation status: Least Concern (Population decreasing)
  • Rank: Species
  • Higher classification: Spotted skunks
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Kingdom: Animalia

Southern Spotted Skunk

Are you starting to notice a pattern with these skunk names? The southern spotted skunk lives in areas of Costa Rica to southern Mexico. These skunks mostly resemble the western spotted skunk.

As most other types of skunks, they are nocturnal hunters and typically feed on small mammals, insects, birds, eggs, grain, and fruit.

Southern Spotted Skunk
Southern Spotted Skunk
  • Scientific name: Spilogale angustifrons
  • Conservation status: Least Concern (Population stable)
  • Rank: Species

Pygmy Spotted Skunk

Nope, there isn’t a northern spotted skunk! Instead, the pygmy spotted skunk is only found in Mexico. They have a black coat with distinctive white markings on its forehead and 2-6 white stripes over its back and sides.

They’re nocturnal creatures and prefer to flee when threatened. However, like all skunks, if things get really tough, the pygmy spotted skunk will spray a foul-smelling liquid when needed.

Pygmy Spotted Skunk
Pygmy Spotted Skunk
  • Scientific name: Spilogale pygmaea
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Mephitidae
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Rank: Species

Hooded Skunks

These furry skunks get their name from the white cape-like fur that covers their head and necks. Some are completely black save for a white hood and some white areas on the tail. Others have a single wide, white dorsal stripe. The tails of hooded skunks are longer and their fur is softer than that of the striped skunk.

They are also known as the southern skunk, long-tailed Mexican skunk, or the white-sided skunk. They inhabit areas of the Southwestern United States all the way down to Costa Rica in Central America.

Hooded skunks can live in several habitats, from dry lowlands to boreal forests or plateaus, and many habitats in between. These skunks may be found in high-elevation ponderosa pine forests, deciduous forests, forest edges, riparian zones, rocky canyons, grasslands, pastures, and arid desert lowlands. In Oaxaca, Mexico, where they are the most common skunk species, they prefer grasslands and marshes over scrublands.

http://www.biokids.umich.edu/critters/Mephitis_macroura/
Mephitis macroura/Hooded Skunk.
A Hooded Skunk
  • Scientific name: Mephitis macroura
  • Higher classification: Mephitis
  • Rank: Species
  • Family: Mephitidae
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata

Stink Badgers

There are two species of stink badgers which, despite the name, are actually skunk. The Sunda stink badger and Palawan stink badger.

Sunda Stink Badger

The Sunda stink badger, also called the Javan stink badger, teledu, Malay stink badger, Malay badger, Indonesian stink badger, and Sunda skunk is a mammal endemic to Indonesia and Malaysia

Sunda stink badgers have coarse fur that is either black or very dark brown over most of its body. There is a white stripe running from the top of its head to the tail. Their tails are short and covered in white fur.

These types of skunks prefer to play dead when threatened. However, if that fails, they resort to deploying a stream of foul-smelling liquid at foes.

Sunda Stink Badger.
Sunda Stink Badger.
  • Scientific name: Mydaus javanensis
  • Mass: 5.5 lbs (Adult)
  • Conservation status: Least Concern
  • Trophic level: Omnivorous
  • Length: 17 in. (Adult)
  • Rank: Species

Palawan Stink Badger

The Palawan stink badger, also known as the pantot, is named for its resemblance to badgers, its powerful foul odor, and the largest island to which it is indigenous Palawan.

These species have a short tail and pointed snout. Its fur is dark brown with a light yellow patch on the top of its head that fades down to the shoulders into a stripe.

Unlike the Sunda stink badger, Palawan stink badger will attack and spray foes with its foul-smelling liquid at the first chance it gets.

Palawan stink badger (Mydaus marchei)
Palawan stink badger (Mydaus marchei)
  • Scientific name: Mydaus marchei
  • Mass: 5.5 lbs (Adult)
  • Conservation status: Least
  • Length: 15 in. (Adult)
  • Higher classification: Stink badger
  • Rank: Species